Journey Through The Scriptures

The Life of Jacob

Lesson 6: God Renews the Covenant with Jacob (Israel)

(Scripture to Read: Genesis 35:1–20)

Many years, and many incredible experiences, had come and gone by the time Jacob returned to Bethel ("house of God") with his large family and possessions. It was at Bethel that God had first appeared to Jacob as he fled from Esau. In fact, it was Jacob who gave Bethel its name after his first encounter with God (Genesis 28:19). At that first meeting, God also restated to Jacob the promises of many descendants and the land of Israel that He had first promised to Abraham.

And now that Jacob was back in the land after all those years away, God wanted to renew His covenant. But first, Jacob had some cleansing to do in his own family by getting rid of foreign gods, and anything that represented them, before he met with the God of Israel. Jacob’s new name, Israel, had been given to him earlier (Genesis 32:28). God reaffirmed this new name and pronounced His blessing on Jacob again. The patriarch then had to deal with the death of his beloved Rachel in childbirth, as Jacob’s twelfth and last son, Benjamin, was born.

Study Questions

  1. Why did Jacob instruct his family to bathe and change their clothes before his encounter with God at Bethel?
  2. Why did God begin His promises to Jacob by identifying Himself as "God Almighty" (v. 11)?
  3. God promised Jacob, "I will give this land to your descendants after you" (v. 12). Who are the descendants of Jacob’s twelve sons today, and is the Promised Land still rightfully theirs?
  4. Jacob built a stone pillar at the place where he met with God and poured offerings on it, as he had done earlier (Genesis 28:18). Why was it important for Jacob to do this?
  5. Explain why Benjamin became so special to Jacob that he could not bear the thought of letting Benjamin go with his brothers to Egypt (Genesis 43:6).

Something to Think About

Just as Jacob and his family did not come into God’s presence without proper thought and preparation, so we too must come reverently before our God in worship.

You may find it helpful to read a psalm of praise (such as Psalms 134-136) or a psalm of confession (such as Psalm 51) in the moments before the service begins in your place of worship.

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